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AM Repair a Focus for SAE through Work With Additive Manufacturing Coalition

Posted: October 21, 2022

Leading conversations around developing technologies is SAE International’s specialty.

On October 13, SAE took part in the Additive Manufacturing Coalition’s Digital Summit on The Use of Additive Manufacturing (AM) for Repair. Dave Abbott, Chair of SAE International AMS-AM Repair Subcommittee on Additive Repair for Aerospace and Senior Staff Engineer at General Electric Aviation presented “The Use of AM For Repair – An SAE AMSAM Perspective” on behalf of SAE.

The appearance is part of a larger push toward additive manufacturing technology that SAE has been driving the past few years. Bill Bihlman, Aerolytics Founder and President, has been actively involved in these activities, supporting the development of SAE Aerospace Material Specifications (AMS) for additive manufacturing.

“In general, the industry is moving towards more sophisticated data management. Additive is a data-rich process, often generating gigabytes of information during a single build,” Bihlman said. “This creates opportunities in three (related) areas: a) in-process monitoring, b) data capture and curation, and c) machine learning. Ultimately, the goal is to correlate the actual machine production parameters (e.g. laser power and scan speed) with the physical properties of the final artifact.”

Bihlman emphasized that regulations require a fixed, controlled manufacturing process for aerospace parts, and in this sense, the AM industry is still evolving.

“We’re realizing that these additive systems (machine + material + process control document) are less deterministic than their brethren, CNC (computer numeric controlled) machines. The AM industry is developing hardware and software to detect and adjust parameters to consistently deliver aerospace-quality parts. Policy will eventually adapt to incorporate these technologies, once proven,” Bihlman said.

Beyond data science, Bihlman highlighted the trend in aerospace to move toward additive repairs. This is especially vital for older, military aircraft. Smaller maintenance, repair and overhaul Part 145 shops will offer these services, but there’s a chance these shops lack the breadth of engineering capabilities and associated laboratories.

That’s a gap SAE can help fill.

“The SAE Repairs is codifying the process to help minimize the uncertainty during a repair, especially beneficial for these smaller, independent shops. This is particularly challenging due to the complexity and uniqueness of the various repair schemas that can easily elude a "standard" process,” Bihlman said.

As SAE works toward these AM updates in aerospace, it’s important to continue its work with organizations like the Additive Manufacturing Coalition to emphasize the criticality of cross-industry partnership to advance technology.

“Given the safety imperative for aviation, additive, like any other manufacturing process, needs to be approved by the Regulators. SAE AMS-AM plays an important role by helping reach consensus on best practice. This process, very importantly, involves a broad set of industry stakeholders and an open forum for its members. Presenting at events such as the AM Coalition helps educate the general public, as well as petition to potential members,” Bihlman said. “The AM Coalition’s work is essential to move the industry forward - we need continued support from Washington to make meaningful progress in a timely manner.”